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Background: Focal cortical dysplasias (FCDs) are congenital structural abnormalities of the brain, and represent the most common cause of medication-resistant focal epilepsy in children and adults. Recent studies have shown that somatic mutations (i.e. mutations arising in the embryo) in mTOR pathway genes underlie some FCD cases. Specific therapies targeting the mTOR pathway are available. However, testing for somatic mTOR pathway mutations in FCD tissue is not performed on a clinical basis, and the contribution of such mutations to the pathogenesis of FCD remains unknown. Aim: To investigate the feasibility of screening for somatic mutations in resected FCD tissue and determine the proportion and spatial distribution of FCDs which are due to low-level somatic mTOR pathway mutations. Methods: We performed ultra-deep sequencing of 13 mTOR pathway genes using a custom HaloPlexHS target enrichment kit (Agilent Technologies) in 16 resected histologically-confirmed FCD specimens. Results: We identified causal variants in 62.5% (10/16) of patients at an alternate allele frequency of 0.75–33.7%. The spatial mutation frequency correlated with the FCD lesion’s size and severity. Conclusions: Screening FCD tissue using a custom panel results in a high yield, and should be considered clinically given the important potential implications regarding surgical resection, medical management and genetic counselling.
The chemical composition of soil from the Glasgow (UK) urban area was used to identify the controls on the availability of potentially harmful elements (PHEs) in soil to humans. Total and bioaccessible concentrations of arsenic (As), chromium (Cr) and lead (Pb) in 27 soil samples, collected from different land uses, were coupled to information on their solid-phase partitioning derived from sequential extraction data. The total element concentrations in the soils were in the range <0.1–135mgkg–1 for As; 65–3680mgkg–1 for Cr and 126–2160mgkg–1 for Pb, with bioaccessible concentrations averaging 27, 5 and 27% of the total values, respectively. Land use does not appear to be a predictor of contamination; however, the history of the contamination is critically important. The Chemometric Identification of Substrates and Element Distribution (CISED) sequential chemical extraction and associated self-modelling mixture resolution analysis identified three sample groupings and 16 geochemically distinct phases (substrates). These were related to iron (n=3), aluminium–silicon (Al–Si; n=2), calcium (n=3), phosphorus (n=1), magnesium (Mg; n=3), manganese (n=1) and easily extractable (n=3), which was predominantly made up of sodium and sulphur. As, Cr and Pb were respectively found in 9, 10 and 12 of the identified phases, with bioaccessible As predominantly associated with easily extractable phases, bioaccessible Cr with the Mg-dominated phases and bioaccessible Pb with both the Mg-dominated and Al–Si phases. Using a combination of the Unified Barge Method to measure the bioaccessibility of PHEs and CISED to identify the geochemical sources has allowed a much better understanding of the complexity of PHE mobility in the Glasgow urban environment. This approach can be applied to other urban environments and cases of soil contamination, and made part of land-use planning.
A considerable proportion of beef produced in the UK is a byproduct of the dairy industry. Young animals from this source are generally regarded as low in quality and meat from animals of this type is usually destined for the commodity minced beef market. The objective of the present study was to evaluate the effect of slaughter weight on sensory characteristics of meat from Holstein-Friesian bulls and steers offered a cereal-based ration.
To achieve their conservation goals individuals, communities and organizations need to acquire a diversity of skills, knowledge and information (i.e. capacity). Despite current efforts to build and maintain appropriate levels of conservation capacity, it has been recognized that there will need to be a significant scaling-up of these activities in sub-Saharan Africa. This is because of the rapid increase in the number and extent of environmental problems in the region. We present a range of socio-economic contexts relevant to four key areas of African conservation capacity building: protected area management, community engagement, effective leadership, and professional e-learning. Under these core themes, 39 specific recommendations are presented. These were derived from multi-stakeholder workshop discussions at an international conference held in Nairobi, Kenya, in 2015. At the meeting 185 delegates (practitioners, scientists, community groups and government agencies) represented 105 organizations from 24 African nations and eight non-African nations. The 39 recommendations constituted six broad types of suggested action: (1) the development of new methods, (2) the provision of capacity building resources (e.g. information or data), (3) the communication of ideas or examples of successful initiatives, (4) the implementation of new research or gap analyses, (5) the establishment of new structures within and between organizations, and (6) the development of new partnerships. A number of cross-cutting issues also emerged from the discussions: the need for a greater sense of urgency in developing capacity building activities; the need to develop novel capacity building methodologies; and the need to move away from one-size-fits-all approaches.
Silymarin is an extract from the plant milk thistle that was shown to have antioxidant and hyperprolactinemic properties. Taking into account the essential role of prolactin for lactating sows and the systemic oxidative stress occurring during lactation, it is of interest to investigate the potential beneficial effects of silymarin on lactating sows. A study was therefore carried out to determine the effects of providing either 1 or 8 g/day of the plant extract silymarin to lactating sows. Sows in first, second or third parity were fed conventional diets during gestation and, at farrowing, were assigned as controls (CTL, n=33), or were fed 1 g/day (SYL1, n=33) or 8 g/day (SYL8, n=33) of silymarin. The silymarin was provided in two equal amounts per day, and was fed throughout a 20-day lactation. The performance of sows and their litters was assessed and circulating concentrations of prolactin (days 7 and 18), urea (days 7 and 18) and oxidative status, via protein carbonyls and superoxide dismutase activity (day 18), were measured in sows. Milk samples were obtained on day 18 to measure standard composition. There was no effect of silymarin (P>0.10) on circulating prolactin or urea, or on oxidative damage to proteins or antioxidant potential in sows. Lactation feed intake, backfat and BW of sows were unaffected by treatment (P>0.10) as was the case for milk composition and piglet growth (P>0.10). Results demonstrate that providing up to 8 g/day of the plant extract silymarin to lactating sows had no beneficial effects in terms of circulating prolactin concentrations or oxidative status of sows, or in terms of performances of sows and their litters.
Major depressive disorder (MDD) is a common and disabling condition with well-established heritability and environmental risk factors. Gene–environment interaction studies in MDD have typically investigated candidate genes, though the disorder is known to be highly polygenic. This study aims to test for interaction between polygenic risk and stressful life events (SLEs) or childhood trauma (CT) in the aetiology of MDD.
The RADIANT UK sample consists of 1605 MDD cases and 1064 controls with SLE data, and a subset of 240 cases and 272 controls with CT data. Polygenic risk scores (PRS) were constructed using results from a mega-analysis on MDD by the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium. PRS and environmental factors were tested for association with case/control status and for interaction between them.
PRS significantly predicted depression, explaining 1.1% of variance in phenotype (p = 1.9 × 10−6). SLEs and CT were also associated with MDD status (p = 2.19 × 10−4 and p = 5.12 × 10−20, respectively). No interactions were found between PRS and SLEs. Significant PRSxCT interactions were found (p = 0.002), but showed an inverse association with MDD status, as cases who experienced more severe CT tended to have a lower PRS than other cases or controls. This relationship between PRS and CT was not observed in independent replication samples.
CT is a strong risk factor for MDD but may have greater effect in individuals with lower genetic liability for the disorder. Including environmental risk along with genetics is important in studying the aetiology of MDD and PRS provide a useful approach to investigating gene–environment interactions in complex traits.
Strategies to dissect phenotypic and genetic heterogeneity of major depressive disorder (MDD) have mainly relied on subphenotypes, such as age at onset (AAO) and recurrence/episodicity. Yet, evidence on whether these subphenotypes are familial or heritable is scarce. The aims of this study are to investigate the familiality of AAO and episode frequency in MDD and to assess the proportion of their variance explained by common single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP heritability).
For investigating familiality, we used 691 families with 2–5 full siblings with recurrent MDD from the DeNt study. We fitted (square root) AAO and episode count in a linear and a negative binomial mixed model, respectively, with family as random effect and adjusting for sex, age and center. The strength of familiality was assessed with intraclass correlation coefficients (ICC). For estimating SNP heritabilities, we used 3468 unrelated MDD cases from the RADIANT and GSK Munich studies. After similarly adjusting for covariates, derived residuals were used with the GREML method in GCTA (genome-wide complex trait analysis) software.
Significant familial clustering was found for both AAO (ICC = 0.28) and episodicity (ICC = 0.07). We calculated from respective ICC estimates the maximal additive heritability of AAO (0.56) and episodicity (0.15). SNP heritability of AAO was 0.17 (p = 0.04); analysis was underpowered for calculating SNP heritability of episodicity.
AAO and episodicity aggregate in families to a moderate and small degree, respectively. AAO is under stronger additive genetic control than episodicity. Larger samples are needed to calculate the SNP heritability of episodicity. The described statistical framework could be useful in future analyses.
Despite its importance as a public health concern, relatively little is known about the natural course of cannabis use disorders (CUDs). The primary objective of this research was to provide descriptive data on the onset, recovery and recurrence functions of CUDs during the high-risk periods of adolescence, emerging adulthood and young adulthood based on data from a large prospective community sample.
Probands (n = 816) from the Oregon Adolescent Depression Project (OADP) participated in four diagnostic assessments (T1–T4) between the ages of 16 and 30 years, during which current and past CUDs were assessed.
The weighted lifetime prevalence of CUDs was 19.1% with an average onset age of 18.6 years. Although gender was not significantly related to the age of initial CUD onset, men were more likely to be diagnosed with a lifetime CUD. Of those diagnosed with a CUD episode, 81.8% eventually achieved recovery during the study period. Women achieved recovery significantly more quickly than men. The recurrence rate (27.7%) was relatively modest, and most likely to occur within the first 36 months following the offset of the first CUD episode. CUD recurrence was uncommon after 72 months of remission and recovery.
CUDs are relatively common, affecting about one out of five persons in the OADP sample prior to the age of 30 years. Eventual recovery from index CUD episodes is the norm, although about 30% of those with a CUD exhibit a generally persistent pattern of problematic use extending 7 years or longer.
Although usually thought of as external environmental stressors, a significant heritable component has been reported for measures of stressful life events (SLEs) in twin studies.
We examined the variance in SLEs captured by common genetic variants from a genome-wide association study (GWAS) of 2578 individuals. Genome-wide complex trait analysis (GCTA) was used to estimate the phenotypic variance tagged by single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). We also performed a GWAS on the number of SLEs, and looked at correlations between siblings.
A significant proportion of variance in SLEs was captured by SNPs (30%, p = 0.04). When events were divided into those considered to be dependent or independent, an equal amount of variance was explained for both. This ‘heritability’ was in part confounded by personality measures of neuroticism and psychoticism. A GWAS for the total number of SLEs revealed one SNP that reached genome-wide significance (p = 4 × 10−8), although this association was not replicated in separate samples. Using available sibling data for 744 individuals, we also found a significant positive correlation of R2 = 0.08 in SLEs (p = 0.03).
These results provide independent validation from molecular data for the heritability of reporting environmental measures, and show that this heritability is in part due to both common variants and the confounding effect of personality.
The passive film stability of several Fe-based amorphous metal formulations have been found to be comparable to that of high-performance Ni-based alloys, and superior to that of stainless steels, based on electrochemical measurements of the passive film breakdown potential and general corrosion rates. Chromium (Cr), molybdenum (Mo) and tungsten (W) provide corrosion resistance; boron (B) enables glass formation; and rare earths such as yttrium (Y) lower critical cooling rate (CCR). The high boron content of this particular amorphous metal also makes it an effective neutron absorber, and suitable for criticality control applications, as discussed in companion publications. Corrosion data for SAM2X5 (Fe49.7Cr17.7Mn1.9Mo7.4W1.6B15.2C3.8Si2.4) is discussed here.
Recent data provide strong support for a substantial common polygenic contribution (i.e. many alleles each of small effect) to genetic susceptibility for schizophrenia and overlapping susceptibility for bipolar disorder.
To test hypotheses about the relationship between schizophrenia and psychotic types of bipolar disorder.
Using a polygenic score analysis to test whether schizophrenia polygenic risk alleles, en masse, significantly discriminate between individuals with bipolar disorder with and without psychotic features. The primary sample included 1829 participants with bipolar disorder and the replication sample comprised 506 people with bipolar disorder.
The subset of participants with Research Diagnostic Criteria schizoaffective bipolar disorder (n = 277) were significantly discriminated from the remaining participants with bipolar disorder (n = 1552) in both the primary (P = 0.00059) and the replication data-sets (P = 0.0070). In contrast, those with psychotic bipolar disorder as a whole were not significantly different from those with non-psychotic bipolar disorder in either data-set.
Genetic susceptibility influences at least two major domains of psychopathological variation in the schizophrenia–bipolar disorder clinical spectrum: one that relates to expression of a ‘bipolar disorder-like’ phenotype and one that is associated with expression of ‘schizophrenia-like’ psychotic symptoms.
This paper describes the development of a nitrogen-based passivation technique for interface states near the conduction band edge [Dit(Ec)] in 4H-SiC/SiO2. These states have been observed and characterized in several laboratories for n- and p-SiC since their existence was first proposed by Schorner, et al. . The origin of these states remains a point of discussion, but there is now general agreement that these states are largely responsible for the lower channel mobilities that are reported for n-channel, inversion mode 4H-SiC MOSFETs. Over the past year, much attention has been focused on finding methods by which these states can be passivated. The nitrogen passivation process that is described herein is based on post-oxidation, high temperature anneals in nitric oxide. An NO anneal at atmospheric pressure, 1175°C and 200–400sccm for 2hr reduces the interface state density at Ec-E ≅0.1eV in n-4H-SiC by more than one order of magnitude - from > 3×1013 to approximately 2×1012cm−2eV−1. Measurements for passivated MOSFETs yield effective channel mobilities of approximately 30–35cm2/V-s and low field mobilities of around 100cm2/V-s. These mobilities are the highest yet reported for MOSFETs fabricated with thermal oxides on standard 4H-SiC and represent a significant improvement compared to the single digit mobilities commonly reported for 4H inversion mode devices. The reduction in the interface state density is associated with the passivation of carbon cluster states that have energies near the conduction band edge. However, attempts to optimize the the passivation process for both dry and wet thermal oxides do not appear to reduce Dit(Ec) below about 2×1012cm−2eV−1 (compared to approximately 1010cm−2eV−1 for passivated Si/SiO2). This may be an indication that two types of interface states exist in the upper half of the SiC band gap – one type that is amenable to passivation by nitrogen and one that is not. Following NO passivation, the average breakdown field for dry oxides on p-4H-SiC is higher than the average field for wet oxides (7.6MV/cm compared to 7.1MV/cm at room temperature). However, both breakdown fields are lower than the average value of 8.2MV/cm measured for wet oxide layers that were not passivated. The lower breakdown fields can be attributed to donor-like states that appear near the valence band edge during passivation.
Titanate pyrochlores are candidate host materials for the disposition of plutonium from dismantled nuclear weapons. These pyrochlores also have potential applications as solid electrolytes and oxygen gas sensors. The radiation-induced microstructural evolution of titanate pyrochlores has been characterized using x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS). XPS analysis of the Ti 2p and O 1s binding energy shifts of REE2Ti2O7 (REE: rare earth) surface layers before and after irradiation shows that the primary manifestations of amorphization are distortions or changes in the coordination number of the titanium polyhedra. A model based on glass network structure was developed, and predictions of the relative susceptibilities for amorphization of the titanate pyrochlores are obtained that are consistent with the experimental results.
The quantity, radioactivity, and isotopic characteristics of the spent fission fuel from a hybrid fusion-fission system capable of extremely high burnups are described. The waste generally has higher activity per unit mass of heavy metal, but much lower activity per unit energy generated. The very long-term radioactivity is dominated by fission products. Simple scaling calculations suggest that the dose from a repository containing such waste would be dominated by 129I, 135Cs, and 242Pu. Use of such a system for generating energy would greatly reduce the need for repository capacity
Theoretical dramatic improvement of the thermoelectric properties of materials by using quantum confinement in novel semiconductor nanostructures has lead to considerable interest in the thermoelectric community. Therefore, we are exploring the critical materials issues for fabrication of quantum confined structures by magnetron sputtering in the lead telluride and bismuth telluride families of materials. We have synthesized modulated structures from thermoelectric materials with bilayer periods of as little as 3.2 nm and shown that they are stable at deposition temperatures high enough to grow quality films. Issues critical to high quality film growth have been investigated such as nucleation and growth conditions and their effect on crystal orientation and growth morphology. These investigations show that nucleating the film at a temperature below the growth temperature of optimum electronic properties produces high quality films. Our work with sputter deposition, which is inherently a high rate deposition process, builds the technological base necessary to develop economical production of these advanced materials. High deposition rate is critical since, even if efficiencies comparable with CFC based refrigeration systems can be achieved, large quantities of quantum confined materials will be necessary for cost-competitive uses.
Alloy 22 [UNS N06022] is now being considered for construction of high level waste containers to be emplaced at Yucca Mountain and elsewhere. In essence, this alloy is 20.0–22.5% Cr, 12.5–14.5% Mo, 2.0–6.0% Fe, 2.5–3.5% W, with the balance being Ni. Other impurity elements include P, Si, S, Mn, Co and V. Cobalt may be present at a maximum concentration of 2.5%. Detailed mechanistic models have been developed to account for the corrosion of Alloy 22 surfaces in crevices that will inevitably form. Such occluded areas experience substantial decreases in pH, with corresponding elevations in chloride concentration. Experimental work has been undertaken to validate the crevice corrosion model, including parallel studies with 304 stainless steel.
Coupons of titanium alloys under consideration as components of the Engineered Barrier System in the proposed repository at Yucca Mountain have been evaluatedfor their passive film composition and stability. Oxide depths and compositions on specimens exposed in long-term corrosion testing for one year were determined with x-ray photoemission spectroscopy. The specimens removed from long-term testing, as well as separate coupons polarized cathodically in an electrochemical cell, exhibited blistering associated with hydride formation in both scanning electron microscopy and atomic force microscopy.
Ceramic coated carbon steel coupons were corrosion tested in water with dissolved salts to simulate exposure to evaporation concentrated groundwater in an underground nuclear repository. Metallography revealed no corrosion at the ceramic metal interface of dense coatings, even though electrical measurements demonstrated that the coatings were slightly porous. Experimental results and a model to predict corrosion rates influenced by a porous ceramic coating and coating lifetimes are presented.